Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Gotcha' Day Times 7

Lyle and I have twice experienced that most terrifying of moments when a total stranger is pushed in your direction and told to call you MaMa or PaPa. Early on Wednesday morning, in a church parking lot on Bainbridge Island, we would now experience that not with a crying baby or screaming young child, but with 7 teenagers. SEVEN. TEENAGERS. And as if that weren’t awkward enough, the adolescents came with a bonus adult aunt or uncle thrown into the mix.

Twenty-five or so married couples had volunteered or been coerced into this Ma/Pa experience and we all gathered in a large anxious group at one end of the parking lot with the nearly 200 youth in lines on either side--girls on the left, boys on the right. The trek director yelled out Ma and Pa names by handcart number and they raced down the gauntlet, turning their heads to see which aunt or uncle’s name had been called and who was now running behind them. As they reached the end, the trek director yelled kid’s names and the young people who would be their children for the next few grueling days ran to meet their parents. Lyle and I were handcart number 12, so we relaxed a bit and watched the process take shape. Big, strapping young men joined families (we prayed for one of those), tiny, timid-looking girls ran down the line, their pristine white pantaloons showing at the ankles as their dresses flared out behind them (maybe they’re stronger than they look?), some eye-rolling teens shook their heads and reluctantly jogged over to their new Ma and Pa (please, let’s not get one of those...or 2 or 3 or possibly 7 of those), and then in what proved to be an oddly emotional moment, we watched our real-life daughter adopted into a new family. I envied them and wondered if they’d appreciate the gem they’d been given.

I was just thinking on this--that most of the real-life parents probably felt the same way, or on the other hand, maybe they were just happy to have their kids out of the house for a few days, when handcart number 12 was called. Down the line we ran, with a complete stranger of an uncle running behind us. I hoped to hear a few familiar kid’s names. Maybe someone we already know from our ward? Maybe one of my daughter’s friends? The trek director who’d put together the families was hoping to avoid that, but we could still hope. Luckily for us, we did get a young man from our ward, someone Lyle has taken on 50 milers and sat with around the campfire. We knew endurance-wise, he’d be completely fine. We knew him to be an exceptionally good boy with a great attitude, but we also knew the weight of the handcart was nothing compared to an emotional load he was already carrying. I loved him dearly. Next, we heard a name that filled us with joy--a darling girl who is as close to being family to us as any non-Beck child could possibly be. We’ve known her parents for over 20 years. Lyle sat next to this girl's dad in pre-dentistry classes at BYU, both of them made the same long drive with their young families to dental school in Iowa City, and now are partners who work, laugh, drill and fill together 4 days a week. Our respective children had called the other couple “aunt and uncle” for so long that they were shocked to learn during their childhood that they weren’t actually related. That’s how well we already knew our new trek daughter. And knowing her, we knew we’d just struck gold in the daughter department. My worries that anyone in our family might feel left-out of the sibling group were gone.

Our other 2 sons and 3 daughters were strangers to us. One son’s name was so manly-sounding that I almost wanted to turn around and see a little 90 pounder running our way, just for the pure irony of it all. But no, our new 17 year-old was bigger than his Pa and looked like a young man who could (and would love to) single-handedly pull our handcart to Zion. Our other boy looked equally fit and ready, so as far as pure brawn was concerned, we were set. Our girls (2 of them actually younger than the cut-off age of 14, but since they were turning 14 later in the summer, they could squeeze in) didn't remotely look like the female German weightlifters that I'd hoped for in trek daughters, but we were to learn on the trail that they were scrappy as all get out. Yep, these were kids we could work with......and as an added bonus over our previous Gotcha' days, they even spoke English.

1 comment:

Llama Wanderings said...

I love your guys' attitude and perspective. I love this blog. I'm in the Seattle area too so it's fun seeing your going on